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Under Siege

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Mar. 14th, 2006 | 03:36 pm

Seagal vs. Gary Busey in a dress. Classic!

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Under Siege is probably Seagal's most popular outing, since it seems to be the one he's associated with more than any of his other films. It was directed by Andrew Davis, the man responsible for The Fugitive and several other big-budget Hollywood blockbusters, and stars Gary Busey, Tommy Lee Jones, and future Baywatch beauty Erika Eleniak. And though it does feature a slightly chubby Seagal doing the Bruce Willis-Die Hard schtick, it's still probably one of his best movies to date. To date, you say? Yes, to date. Just because he's old and flabby and lethargic doesn't mean you can count him out completely. Under Siege 3 has recently been announced, and it could be the comeback our beefy aikido master has been waiting for. Who knows? Stranger things have certainly happened.

I mean, I AM watching Seagal films, something I never thought I'd do.

Seagal stars as Casey Rybeck, a former Navy Seal who now cooks meals in the belly of an American battleship. When a surprise birthday party for the captain turns into a hackneyed terrorist plot to swipe the nukes aboard the ship, everyone thinks the situation is hopeless. You see, a former CIA goon (Jones) is the mastermind behind this nefarious scheme, and he knows all the tricks of the trade our beloved government will use against him. Unfortunately for all those highly-armed, highly-trained bad guys, Ryback's on board, locked away in the meat locker for assaulting a rather obnoxious officer (Busey), who just so happens to be in league with in the aforementioned CIA goon. With the help of a former Playboy Playmate (Eleniak), Ryback takes down the terrorists, one by the one. And, yes, Seagal saves the day once again. Hoorah for suspense!

Since Andrew Davis is the man with the plan, Under Siege is one of Seagal's best-looking productions. It's slick, polished, and features several impressive action sequences. The most memorable comes at the tail end of the flick, which sees Seagal and Jones going head-to-head, armed with knives, in the battleship's control room. Can you guess who's going to win? Of course you can! But the fun is figuring out HOW Seagal is going to dispatch his enemy. I won't reveal the gruesome details here, but I will say that it rivals the ending of both Marked For Death and Out For Justice. It's brutal, gratuitous, and completely over-the-top. You could always count on the head bad guy receiving the most outrageous death possible in Seagal's earlier films. Just ask William Forsythe.

One-man army action flicks were quite popular in the 80's and early-90's. Anyone who considered themselves to be an "action hero" were required by law to participate in at least one feature that pitted them alone against a squadron of blood-thirsty goons. Seagal, it seems, adopted this credo early on, since he always handled the film's respective bad guys all by his lonesome. Though Under Siege has him teamed with Erika Eleniak, he still handles most of the ass-kicking himself, that is, until he rescues some army types from a sealed room about half-way through the picture. But for the most part, Seagal is dealing with things as he always does: It's just him, his gut, and an array of high-tech weaponry. And some really big knives.

Now, it wouldn't be a Steven Seagal movie if we didn't have a few surreal moments to chew on. Take, for instance, the scene right before the terrorists reveal their true nature and pop a cap into a high-ranking officer's forehead. Masquerading as a rock band, our fun-loving killers decide to crank out a few tunes before getting down to business. That's not entirely weird, of course, until Gary Busey comes rushing into the room...IN DRAG. Why? No reason! I'm guessing that, during the filming of this particular scene, Busey thought it would be cute to dress like an ugly woman and make everyone laugh. Well, it worked, and ranks as one of the best surreal moments in Seagal history. I'd be surprised if this bizarro moment was actually written into the script, since it seems so out-of-place with the rest of the movie. Oh, Gary Busey, how you make us laugh. At you.

If you're in the mood for a Die Hard-style action flick that DOESN'T star Bruce Willis, Under Siege should do the trick. There's lots of action -- including several nasty scenes involving Seagal's trademark brand of martial arts -- some boobies, and Tommy Lee Jones chewing scenery and making the most of a questionable career choice. This movie proves that, once upon a time, Seagal was a force to be reckoned with. Sure, he still had the acting skills of a diseased corpse, but he certainly had screen presence and the ability to make you squeamish when he'd casually snap an arm or two during his quest to annihilate the bad guys. It makes watching his newer movies rather depressing, since it showcases how far he has fallen since his brief period on Hollywood's A-List. But there's always hope, I guess, that he will return to the big screen in the near future.

I'm thinking a Don "The Dragon" Wilson, Van Damme, Cynthia Rothrock, and Seagal team-up could save the day.

Or make us all cry. Really, really hard.

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